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World Vision national youth survey shows 90 per cent of children have witnessed racism at sports events

Wes Hosking, August 11, 2019 6:45PM Herald Sun

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Western Bulldogs VFL footballer Reuben William is helping leading the push against racism in sport. He is joined here by Jay Knol, 7, Jackson Ramantanis, 8, Hugo Wallert, 7 and Imani, 10. Picture: Jake Nowakowski media_cameraWestern Bulldogs VFL footballer Reuben William is helping leading the push against racism in sport. He is joined here by Jay Knol, 7, Jackson Ramantanis, 8, Hugo Wallert, 7 and Imani, 10. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

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Australian children are witnessing racism* at elite* and junior sporting events in startling numbers, new research shows.

A national youth survey — involving primary and secondary students — shows nine in 10 youths know someone close who has been the target of a racist attack at a professional sporting event.

Eight in 10 reported similar racist behaviour at the local shops or shopping centres.

World Vision Australia chief executive officer Claire Rogers, whose organisation commissioned* the survey, said: “It is startling* to know that our children are seeing racism play out in places they should feel safe and included.

“These are family and communal* spaces that should be bringing people together, a place where people from different cultural* and ethnic* groups have the opportunity to form friendships and feel a sense of belonging — not to feel socially excluded*,’’ Ms Rogers said.

How not to be a racist

She said the findings were a wake-up call* and more needed to be done to tackle racism.

More than 770 students aged 11-19 from 154 schools in Victoria, NSW and Queensland were surveyed — just over half of them caucasian*.

A quarter had been a direct target of racism at school. A fifth were targeted at social gatherings or on the street.

Western Bulldogs Victorian Football League footballer Reuben William, who hosts talks for children and adults at English language schools in Melbourne’s west, said he was not shocked by the results.

“That’s not surprising to me considering what young people from a refugee* background tend to go through when arriving in this country.

“If you let it go at that age the cycle continues,’’ William said.

“It’s important to bring it to light.”

Racism report media_cameraWestern Bulldogs VFL footballer Reuben William has been the target of online trolls but believes Australians are starting to fight back against them. Picture: Jake Nowakowski

The 21-year-old, born in South Sudan, said he had been a target of online trolls* but believed they were being pointed out for their bad behaviour more often.

“People are a lot more comfortable blowing the whistle and pointing it out — not being a bystander*,’’ William said.

“It’s important to have role models that are able to stand up and drive certain messages and be advocates* for those without a voice and show a clear pathway for young multicultural* kids.”

The research comes ahead of next month’s World Vision 40 Hour Famine backpack challenge, which will see young Aussies live out of a backpack for 40 hours to help understand the experiences of refugees.

“The 40 Hour Famine Backpack Challenge campaign aims to bring a deeper level of understanding to students across the nation by introducing a challenge where participants understand a little of the experience of refugees,” Ms Rogers said.

‘With understanding comes connection — and with connection, a foundation for the future change makers and leaders of tomorrow.”

For more information go to:


  • racism: bad behaviour towards someone from another country or race in the belief that your own race is better
  • elite: the best
  • commissioned: produced specially to instructions
  • startling: surprising
  • communal: for use by everyone in a community
  • cultural: the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a society
  • ethnic: relating to original nationality or culture
  • excluded: left out
  • wake-up call: an alert that something needs fixing
  • caucasian: white skinned person, with European background
  • refugee: person forced to leave their country due to war, or natural disaster
  • t rolls:person who makes nasty comments online
  • bystander: person who is present but does not take part
  • advocates: someone who supports a cause
  • multicultural: contains several cultural or ethnic groups


Goodes film on racism sparks strong emotions

Footballers say no to racism

Young Aussies want to help global refugees


  1. What percentage of youths had witnessed a racist attack at professional sports events?
  2. Who commissioned the survey?
  3. How many kids had been a direct target of racism at school?
  4. Which league does Reuben William play in?
  5. Where was Reuben born?


1. Free verse poetry
Read the news article and choose 10 keywords. Write a free verse poem with a social message, including the keywords you have selected. Try to capture your thoughts and feelings about the topic within your poem.

(A free verse poem follows no set structure and does not need to include any rhythm or rhyming pattern.)

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Personal and Social Capability; Ethical Understanding; Intercultural Understanding

2. Extension
Slam it! Practise performing your free verse poem with drama and passion, in the style of a Slam Poetry Competition.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity

Curriculum Links: English; Drama

Dash versus Hyphen
In the article there are examples of both dashes and hyphens being used. They often get mixed up as they look very similar.

A hyphen joins words or numbers to show they have a combined meaning, but a dash is used to add extra information during your sentence.

They are both represented by a horizontal line, but they are usually different sizes.

Can you find the dashes and hyphen in the article?

Explain to your partner which ones are dashes and which ones and hyphens, and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Have you ever witnessed racism at a sporting event? How did it make you feel?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

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